Prefab housing pioneer Katerra buys Michael Green Architecture

Silicon Valley prefabricated home-building company Katerra has acquired Michael Green Architecture (MGA), the Vancouver-based firm that has emerged as one of the leading exponents of timber-based design.

MGA said the deal signalled a "profound evolution" in the construction industry.

Founded in 2015 by a group of real estate and tech-business executives, Katerra offers bespoke apartment blocks manufactured from a standardised catalogue of building components made from cross-laminated timber.

Despite the standardisation of its building components, such as floor systems, roof truss assemblies and wall panels, Katerra claims each building is unique to the client.

The service it offers includes architecture and interior design, and last June acquired the Spokane, Washington architecture firm Nystrom Olson.

It has two factories, in Phoenix and Spokane (in development), and claims to have received $1.3bn worth of orders for its buildings so far.

Katerra recently built a cross-laminated timber fabrication plant in Spokane, Washington State (Katerra)

Investors are betting big on it: in January the company netted $865 million in a funding round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund. The cash will be spent on research and technology development, and on scaling the business up.

Co-founder and chairman Michael Marks, one-time chief executive of Tesla, commented: "Katerra is thrilled to welcome MGA. Michael Green and his team have built a reputation for engaging design and leadership in the use of mass timber. This goes a long way to support our mission to use cutting-edge technology and systems to revolutionise the construction industry."

Michael Green told Vancouver magazine that he had agreed to the merger because Katerra was based on the idea of "addressing our impact on the climate and making good architecture affordable. This acquisition gives us the opportunity to address both of those issues at scale".

No financial details of the sale were disclosed, but MGA will continue to be run by its existing management.

Top image: Render of Union Village, a healthcare village to be prefabricated offsite in Nevada, ordered from US start-up Katerra (Katerra)

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